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Originally published February 24 2014

Exposure to nicotine in womb raises obesity risk

by PF Louis

(NaturalNews) Not smoking or drinking during pregnancy is one of those "everyone knows" affairs. But not everyone abides by those rules. Health Canada estimates that around 20% of expectant mothers continue smoking.

And some that do abide use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), which could be in the form of a gum, lozenges, sprays or transdermal patches.

A Canadian research team located primarily at the University of Western Ontario with support from researchers at McMaster University, both in Canada, decided to look into the mechanics of nicotine's effects via an animal study. [1]

They used female Wistar rats separated into two groups. The control group received saline-only injections daily while the test group was injected with nicotine bitartrate at the rate of 1 mg/kg of body weight, replicating the average intake of a human cigarette smoker or one who is using NRT to kick the habit.

The study's focus was to investigate if nicotine exposure during pregnancy and lactation leads to alterations in hepatic (liver) triglyceride synthesis. The injections of both nicotine for the test group and saline for the control group continued from two weeks prior to mating to after weaning.

180 days after birth

Since this was a prospective study, which looks for future results of possible consequences from a particular substance within a specific group, 180 days after the offspring were birthed they were examined for health effects as compared with the control group.

At the 180th postnatal day, the male offspring exposed to nicotine "exhibited significantly elevated levels of circulating and hepatic triglycerides." This was a consequence of fatty acid synthase. [2]

Synthase is defined as "an enzyme that catalyzes the linking together of two molecules, esp. without the direct involvement of ATP." [3]

The researchers backtracked to determine the cascading sequence of biochemical processes that led to the liver hypertriglyceridemia in the rats' livers whose mothers were exposed to nicotine just before pregnancy, during pregnancy and while lactating. They carefully charted those sequences that lead to genetic influences in the offspring. [2]

So due to both gene transcription control interruptions and epigenetic developments, the offspring were mutated to have a predisposition toward obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular issues. Epigentics deals with changes in gene functions from external factors, while transcription is involved with when and how often the gene is transcribed. [4] [5]

In other words, as with any substance that affects a fetus, the parents' natural genetic state does not contribute to their offspring's unhealthy development, but the substances taken during pregnancy affect the offspring's genetics toward worse health than if those substances were not there.

The study conclusion

"Collectively, these findings suggest that nicotine exposure during pregnancy and lactation leads to an increase in circulating and hepatic triglycerides long-term via changes in the transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of the hepatic lipogenic pathway."

Whatever a woman takes in during pregnancy can create a genetic issue for predisposing the child to a myriad of health issues. Considering our toxic environment, doesn't this at least partly explain the current early childhood epidemic of obesity and diabetes along with autoimmune diseases flourishing among children as never before?

Consider this: the study only examined the effects of nicotine, which can also come from NRT (nicotine replacement therapy). Cigarettes contain 600 added chemicals to enable nicotine free basing or a nicotine crack pipe effect that leads to 4,000 potential chemical toxins in cigarette smoke. Nicotine alone is not the entire issue.

One of the study's authors, Daniel Hardy, while acknowledging that cigarettes are worse then NRT, recommends raising one's folic acid levels during pregnancy as a possible antidote if one was or is using NRT or smoking.

However, folic acid supplements can be hazardous. It's better to consume more natural folates in foods and supplements than synthetic folic acid supplements. [5]

Sources used for this article include:







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